TWO IS a company, three is a crowd and, well, four is a bloody mess.
That is the number of groups planning to contest the posts of Football Association of Singapore president and Council members. That is, whenever the association sorts things out and allow the election of new office bearers to take place.
There are just too many groups in the mix and is not what Singapore football needs. Not at a time when the game is wanting of capable leadership to get it out of the rut it is in.
I am in no way putting down the abilities of any person or group who are deliberating to contest for FAS office. And I’ll go as far as saying that among them are some of the most passionate supporters of the local game.
But this is the reality: Singapore does not have enough administrators who can run a sport that has the biggest following in the country. As a veteran official said to me recently, the talent are not many who can manage a sport with personalities as varied as stars in the night sky and egos to ignite a powder keg.
In the time I’ve followed the game since the 1970s, there were few. One, N Ganesan, is dead.
Others are Teo Hock Seng and Patrick Ang, who ran Tampines Rovers and Geylang International for decades, and former executive general secretary Steven Tan.
A name that cropped up recently is Singapore Rugby president Low Teo Ping. (See The New Paper story here).
Singapore football needs structural change
The 46 affiliates hold power on the future of Singapore football and in casting their votes must be confident it will be in good hands after the FAS elections.
But there are too many contesting teams complicating the equation.
Incumbent vice-president Lim Kia Tong is expected to lead a group consisting of sitting Council members and they represent the current hierarchy.
The sport needs a structural change after two decades of decline and if his group recognises it, they have not made public their plans to stop it. Which could mean a continuation of processes and policies that have not got football anywhere.
The other three groups are in the ‘enough is enough’ camp and are likely to zoom in on the problems, whether in management or policies, to stop the rot. And this is where the danger that Singapore football could slide further down the pit.
As in any multi-cornered fight, they’ll spread the votes thin and reduce the odds of getting elected. And if a group without the depth of talent to handle the nuances of Singapore football ends up winning, they will destroy the game.
The game changer team
It is emerging that the side with the game-changer credentials is the one led by Hougang United chairman Bill Ng. Former Tampines chairman Teo has been linked to his team.
With Ang, who stepped down from his Geylang post in 2012, hinting Rugby Singapore’s Low should throw his hat into the ring, Ng’s team is shaping up as the best answer for change.
Low was responsible for Singapore Sailing’s success, especially its youth excellence programme. While still its president, the former banker took over local rugby at a time it was beset with financial scandal and dipping staff morale in 2006, and turned it around into the success it is today.
This is not the time for egos.
So, should Low decide to step forward, this time for football, on Ng’s side, the best outcome would be for the other two groups to decamp and join his team with their best talents.
R Vengadasalam fronts one group as campaign manager, while the other has yet to publicly reveal his identity or candidates. But if both insist on a four-cornered election contest, then, they risk pushing Singapore football further into decline.
They must reconsider.
A robust battle between the incumbents and the combined talents of the three teams, possibly led by Low, will give the 46 voting affiliates a clear choice and offer Singapore football a 50-50 chance to turn the corner.
I’m tracking the FAS elections and will tweet developments on Twitter at @iandecotta as and when they happen.